Irish Superstitions and Beliefs that are Still Alive

We laugh watching how read-headed Anna in Leap Year gets into one confusing situation after another while chasing her boyfriend in Ireland. Little do we know that most of the Irish superstitions and beliefs she has to deal with are still alive on the Emerald Isle.

Last updated: January 14, 2023

Irish Superstitions - Roads and Destinations,
Irish superstitions and beliefs that are still alive

Irish Superstitions and Beliefs that are Still Alive

Leap Year traditions might have stopped instilling fear in Irish bachelors long time ago. Yet other, less terrifying superstitions and beliefs still impact everyday lives of some of the Irish folks.

The Irish superstitions and beliefs are as rich as Irish culture. They gifted the world with some of the most popular tales and myths. And although everybody agrees that leprechauns and other mystical creatures limit their spells and bad deeds only to old legends, the Irish luck is still widely believed in today.

Thus, don’t get surprised when your Irish friend warns you against using small Hawthorn tree branch to drive off flies. On the other hand, let her smile from ear to ear when bird poo lands on her head.

Irish Superstitions - Roads and Destinations,
Irish beliefs and superstitions. Photo by Gaelle Marcel


Falling on the Floor Cutlery Invites Guests to the House

The Irish have superstitions about everything. Even something as trivial as the cutlery has deep meaning in the Irish culture. So the Irish believe that if a knife falls on the floor, you’ll have a gentleman visitor. When a fork falls on the floor, expect a female to visit your house. And if you happened to drop a spoon on the floor, get ready for a child visitor.

Good Luck Comes to You with a Found Half-penny

The Irish might have sweet memories and the old tales about their ha’pennies, but the coins are long gone. They were removed from circulation on January 1, 1987. This, however, didn’t make the Irish forget their old superstitions. Finding a coin is considered a good luck. But dare to leave it laying around, and you risk to invite the bad luck to follow you.

Itchy Nose is a Sign of Upcoming Fight

Irritating as it already is, the itchy nose is a sure signal of a fight you’ll get involved into in the near future. So get ready for some punches, hopefully without serious consequences. The fight, though, can be prevented by slapping a person next to you on the wrist.

When a Bird Poops on You is for Good Luck

Some of the Irish beliefs and superstitions don’t make sense at all. With that being said, having a bird poo on you is considered a good thing in Ireland. Some believe that the Irish came up with this belief to make themselves feel better, since, as they say, the bird poo lands on people frequently in Ireland.

Shirt Inside out is Good, Leave it this Way

As one of the old Irish superstitions goes, if you happened to put on your shirt inside out, it’s for the good luck. Yet don’t you dare to switch it the right way around. In the latter case, the bad lucks overpowers your good luck. Just carry on with your daily routine with your shirt inside out and expect the good things to come your way.

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Irish beliefs and superstitions people still believe. Photo by Allef Vinicius

Sailors and Red-headed Women don’t Get Alone

By virtue of unpredictable ocean conditions, the Irish sailors and fishermen hold longer to the old superstitions and beliefs. And thus, seeing a red-headed woman before going to the sea is considered a very bad luck. These sea wolves are better off by canceling their trips altogether after such an unlucky encounter.

The Irish Never Let Go of their Superstitions about Fairy Trees

Even those Irish that claim that they don’t believe in the centuries-old superstitions don’t risk to harm or cut down any fairy trees. As the tale says, one that raises his hand on one of these trees receives the life-long bad luck. Thus even today, the lonely-standing trees can be found across Ireland.

New Shoes on the Table is Bad

Save yourself and your life and never ever put your new shoes on the table. It might be one of the oldest superstitions, but the Irish still don’t try to test it.

Never Pick up the Banshee’s Comb. And Never Dare to Test these Old Irish Beliefs and Superstitions

Just as many other Irish superstitions featuring mystic creatures, the myths about the Banshee are mostly dead except in some rural places in Ireland. Here up to this day, people believe in the bad luck associated with the picking up a comb from the ground. It might belong to the Banshee. And you don’t want to know what happens when she comes looking for her stuff.

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Old Irish beliefs and superstitions that are still alive. Photo by Kev Kindred 

One Magpie for Sorrow, Two for Joy

The Irish even rhyme their favorite superstitions like in the case with the magpies.

One for sorrow, two for joy

Three for a girl, and four for a boy,

Five for silver, six for gold,

Seven for a secret never to be told.

It might sound silly, but remember these simple words every time you see the Irish wave at the magpies. The locals take these superstitions seriously and believe that waving at a single bird breaks the curse. On the other hand, the bigger group of magpies you see, the luckier you get. As the Irish say, believe it or not, but it works.

The Child of Prague Shushes Bad Weather

Even the unpredictable weather seems to obey the Irish superstitions and beliefs. And it doesn’t come without some intervention from the locals. So, before the day of a wedding or any big event, the Irish put out a statue of the Child of Prague in their backyards. It’s believed the statue signals to God that the good weather is needed. If the head falls off the statue, it doubles your good luck.

Itching Hands Bring and Give away Money

The Irish keep it a bit complicated when it comes to the itching palms and the superstitions related to them. So as they say, left to receive, right to give. Thus, if the left palm of your hand itches, expect money to come your way. The opposite is also true, at least in Ireland, where the itchy right palm means you will have to pay money soon.

Final Thought on Old Irish Superstitions and Beliefs

Not everything is so simple with the Irish superstitions and beliefs. Some of them are integral parts of the history and Irish folklore. Others, on the other hand, still tend to control people’s lives. Even those, who regard the superstitions as the old myths and nothing more, from time to time still pause in front of a crossing the street black cat even if it’s just for a good Irish laugh.

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